Friday, 5 August 2016

Walker's Moment Of Realization And Alston's Speech

I have quoted several moments of realization in Poul Anderson's works. In Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998), SM Stirling combines such a moment with apt characterization of this novel's villain. William Walker, having noticed oddities in the enemy's deployments, interrogates a woman prisoner by holding a bloody sword to her throat. When he suddenly understands what the enemy is doing, he is furious and is:

"...suddenly conscious of the woman flopping and gurgling on the ground before him with her throat gashed open..." (pp. 559-560)

This is Walker's equivalent of an Anderson character stiffening and breaking off in mid-sentence.

Walker's antagonist, Alston rallies her troops. When she tells them that they fight for hearths, families, ancestral ashes and, in their terminology, "'...the Wisdoms of your faith...'" (p. 568), she sounds like Horatius but refers to "...the author of The Persians..." (ibid.) -Aeschylus?

"On, sons of Greece! Set free / Your fatherland, set free your children, wives, / Places of your ancestral gods and tombs of your ancestors! / Forward for all"

Alston also says:

"'...this sacred isle, this almost-heaven, this village set about with the palisade of the sea against misfortune and the storms of war...'" (ibid.) (See here)

See also a Nicholas van Rijn speech adapting the same passage from Shakespeare here.

Aryuk, prompted by Wanda Tamberly, quotes Hamlet in The Shield Of Time, p. 244.

Janne Floris, posing as a goddess, quotes "...olden wisdom..." from the King James Bible in Time Patrol, p. 613.

Thus, two modern North American sf writers acknowledge debts to older literary traditions.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Very nice and cleverly done, this use of classical poetry from the Greeks and Shakespeare by Poul Anderson and S.M. Stirling. I don't recall, alas, many other SF authors being this cultured.

    But I somehow miss Janne Floris' use of the King James Bible in STAR OF THE SEA. I think I can find the page quoting the Bible in the collection of Time Patrol stories not including the very last one.


    1. Sean,
      "Star of the Sea" IN TIME PATROL (New York, 2006), pp. 467-640 AT p. 613.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Alas, my copy of TIME PATROL, pub. in 1991, contains STAR OF THE SEA but no page 613. My copy is hardback, and I think yours is softcover. Could you give me the chapter number where this quote from or allusion to the Bible is found?


    3. Kaor, Paul!

      I found it! Janne Floris was quoting "olden wisdom," Ecclesiastes 3.1-8. Albeit I used the Douai-Reims-Challoner version. A very wise text indeed!